Replacement players approved by league
The coronavirus pandemic has shut down a lot over the past 20-plus months but it also has provided opportunities in other cases.
Monday, Dec. 20, the NBA agreed to allow teams to sign replacement players for each player affected by COVID.
The first wave of players are already incoming with guards Lance Stephenson, Brandon Knight and Joe Johnson making their respective returns to the Association.
Stephenson, 31 years old, is getting his chance with the Atlanta Hawks after last playing in 2018-19 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since then he has spent the last two seasons in China with the Liaoning Flying Leopards and the G-League with the Grand Rapids Gold.
Guard Isaiah Thomas played one game with the Gold before signing a 10-day contract with the Lakers.
The 30-year old Knight was brought to tears, though they were tears of joy, after receiving his contract from the Dallas Mavericks.
He was with the Detroit Pistons last year and was playing with the Sioux Falls Skyforce this season before the move was made.
During this year’s summer league, Knight played with the Brooklyn Nets in an attempt to return to the league.
The most notable move came in the form of 40-year old Joe Johnson returning to Boston as a Celtic for the first time since being drafted there 20 years ago.
Johnson last played in the NBA in 2018 with the Houston Rockets but has picked up some hardware since leaving the group.
While playing in the Big 3 for two seasons, he captured two Most Valuable Player awards while also claiming a championship in his first year of participation.
The call for Johnson has raised questions as to whether former guard Jamal Crawford will be next.
The 41-year old Crawford last played for the Nets in 2020.
Kalling your shot
Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns made headlines more than once in the same week for publicly made comments.
Monday, Dec. 20, he was quoted as calling himself the “greatest big-man shooter” of all-time.
“I’m the greatest big man shooter of all-time. That’s a fact,” Towns told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “You can see the stats. I ain’t got to play like no one else. Everyone trying to find themselves to be the second version of me when I’m the first version.
“I don’t got to be the second version of someone else. I’m already an original. I don’t have to be a duplicate of someone else.”
Presently, Towns dons a 40% mark from beyond the arc, two percentage points higher than Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki.
In addition, the 26-year old averages four three-point attempts per game while the former Dallas Mavericks star averaged about three and a half per contest.
Later in the week while on a Twitch live stream, Towns was asked about the importance of stats.
He began to explain that he does not get any “love” back home for putting up crazy stats without winning results.
“I’m trying to win,” he said.
Since entering the league, the T-Wolves have a 201-297 record with Towns on the roster.
Lastly, he was asked about Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and the idea that he “chases stats.”
Towns confirmed the former UCLA star “definitely chases stats” before adding he’s a great player and citing how hard it is to accumulate a triple-double.
Westbrook has posted the most triple-doubles in NBA history.
Golden State forward Draymond Green was quick to jump into the fold and let his voice be heard.
“I once watched from the bench, due to us beating [Minnesota’s] ass and he was in the game down 20 with two minutes to go,” Green said. “Come on man. Stop talking to people about the ‘bros’ and yelling this is a ‘brotherhood.’ [Shaking my head].”
Towns would respond by reminding Green, he’s not the coach and does not make decisions on who enters and exits the game.
Kemba’s XMAS Wish List
The up-and-down season for New York guard Kemba Walker has had one constant. The smile he’s kept on his face.
That smile shined bright after Walker hauled in his 10th rebound of the game on Christmas Day, securing his first triple-double since April 2014.
He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists to finish with the 10th NBA triple-double on Christmas Day. Moreover, Walker became the seventh player in league history to accomplish the feat on the holiday in addition to becoming the first Knick to do so.
New York beat the Atlanta Hawks, 101-87, for the team’s first Christmas Day win since 2012.
During the postgame interview on the court, Walker flashed that smile once again and said, “I’m home.”
Perseverance personified is the best way to describe the never-say-die attitude of center DeMarcus Cousins.
Milwaukee center Brook Lopez played in one game this season before undergoing back surgery sidelining him for months.
That opened the door for the Bucks to sign Cousins Tuesday, Nov. 30.
Milwaukee became the fifth team for Boogie in the last five seasons after suffering achilles and quad injuries.
Cousins has played in 13 games this season, even starting a regular season for the first time since 2020-21 with the Houston Rockets.
In addition, he has scored in double-figures in three straight games from Saturday, Dec. 18 to Thursday, Dec. 23.
That’s the first time Cousins has accomplished the feat in the regular season since late April - early May of last season.